Managing your workload

If you manage your own business and have decided to keep it running during treatment, you’ll need to be realistic about how much you can do. It’s helpful to find out about potential sources of support. Many organisations such as your local authority, Citizens Advice or local business networks can give you advice.

It’s also important to understand how treatment may affect you. This will help you think about the things you may need to reorganise at work. Make sure you take on a manageable workload and that you set realistic deadlines. Prioritise activities and see if you can delegate some tasks to employees, friends and family who may want to help, or even people in the same profession.

If it is possible, you could try to contract people to do some of the work or cover for you when you are unwell.

If friends have offered to help you, it’s important that you trust they’ll have the skills and time to do the work. Make sure they don’t take on more than they can manage.

Keeping your business running

If you’ve decided to keep the business running – or if you just want to see how it goes – it’s important to be realistic about what you can do.

It will help to get as much information as you can about your cancer and the possible effects its treatment may have on you. You’ll also need to be realistic about your business demands and your finances.

You can get a lot of advice and information for free or at a low cost from the following places:

  • your local authority (council)
  • your local Jobcentre, or if you live in Northern Ireland, your Jobs and Benefits Office
  • disability support organisations
  • your local Law Centre
  • your local Citizens Advice
  • a financial adviser or your bank
  • your chamber of commerce or other local business networks
  • your trade union or professional association, if you belong to one
  • the government and services website at gov.uk in England, Scotland and Wales, or nidirect.gov.uk in Northern Ireland.

If you have professional advisers, like an accountant or a lawyer, this is a good time to ask for their guidance.


Managing the workload

These tips may help you to manage your workload if you need to reduce the hours you work.

  • Prioritising – decide what absolutely must get done and what can be left until later. Which tasks need your unique skills and experience, and can’t be done by anyone else? Prioritise these.
  • Time management – be realistic about deadlines. Allow yourself extra time in case you don’t feel well or something unexpected comes up. Schedule in time for breaks and activities that help you to relax or feel better.
  • Flexible working – think about different ways of getting the job done. Can you work from home instead of travelling to a customer?
  • Delegation – ask yourself who else can do the work. Even if you don’t have employees, you can still have a team.

Asking yourself these questions could help with delegation:

  • Can you afford to hire a secretary or bookkeeper who works from their own premises?
  • Can you use a subcontractor for some parts of a project?
  • Could someone else manage your website for a while?
  • If you ship goods, can a fulfilment house handle this for a time?
  • Which tasks have to be done every day at a regular time?
  • Can someone cover the days you are unavailable or feel unwell?
  • Which tasks do you least enjoy? These are likely to take more of your energy, so it may help if someone else can do them.
  • Can you group tasks according to the skills needed to do them, for example, sorting post, filing, answering the phone or driving?

Then when someone offers to help, you’ll be ready to describe the sorts of things that need doing.

  • Do you have friends in the same trade or profession who could pick up some of your work for a while?
  • If other people do offer to help, do they have the necessary skills and qualifications to do the work legally and to the required standards? For example, a heating engineer will need to be Corgi registered.
  • Are there jobs around the house that someone could help with, so that you can concentrate on work?

Other people in the business, or your family, may really want to help. It’s good to be open and honest about what is really needed. Ask yourself if they know what is involved in any work they are offering to do and whether they have the skills and time to help. Try not to let them take on more than is fair or more than they can handle.

Make sure they can update you regularly, ask questions along the way or change their minds if it turns out to be too much.

Back to If you're self-employed

Self-employment and cancer

If you’re self-employed you may worry about work and money during your cancer treatment. Support is available to help you cope financially and emotionally.

Working during treatment

Deciding whether to carry on working during treatment is a difficult decision. It depends on individual circumstances.

Making treatment decisions

When you’re self-employed, you may have particular questions about treatment decisions and how they could impact on your work.

Managing your finances

If you’re self-employed and have had to reduce your work activity, you may worry about your professional and personal finances. Support is available to help you cope with financial issues.